"The act of painting, labouring over a canvas and the time involved reflects my need to express my ideas and also my need to push paint around."
- Nicholas Mullaly
Introducing Nicholas Mullaly. A twenty-year-old artist from Melbourne currently studying at the Victorian College of the Arts. Explorations of identity and human behaviour are at the core of Nick's art. We asked him about his work...
How did art come to you? I have always been surrounded by art, it’s been something that I've naturally gravitated towards. I believe art is the perfect outlet, especially when you are having a constant need to express yourself and be creative.
Do you set out with an aim or is it more of a natural desire to paint? Each painting that I do has an idea behind it. It is the outcome of something I have an interest in and feel compelled to make something about. The viewer can come up with any meaning for your work which I love, but for me, I am only able to complete a painting once my idea has been fulfilled. I do quite a bit of preparation before a painting, like writing, drawing and sketching. But I also believe that the act of painting, labouring over a canvas and the time involved reflects my need to express my ideas and also my need to push paint around.
How has art school influenced your work? Being able to go to art school has immensely changed the way I view art and make work. There are countless things that I wouldn't have really learnt how to do if it wasn’t for art school in terms of technical aspects of art-making. Having tutors and peers to guide you and encourage you is really great, along with discovering new types of art and artists, and experimenting in the studio. I owe my experience at art school to forming my ideas, concepts and constantly refining them. This is perhaps the most important thing of all.
Which ideas & themes are you presently exploring? Much of my work is about identity and human behaviour. I am interested in the way people interact with each other, whether they are entwined or detached; celebrating or mourning. I like to portray the figure in an unusual, humorous or 'non-traditional' manner or context. Oftentimes vibrant colours or whimsical subject matter act as masks for something darker and more ominous; things reflected in society. I feel compelled to make work which is a response to the anxiety and alienation I feel surrounding my identity and sexuality in life, but the works also represent everybody.
What do you look for in a work of art? I'm definitely drawn to certain factors such as emotion, aesthetic, technique and meaning, but I also get excited about works when I'm not looking for anything. I think it's good to have an open mind about all types of art, and I feel like I'm often surprised by different factors that I didn't expect to be.
Your biggest influences? On top of endless lists of modernist painters and contemporary artists today, my biggest influences are often the people that I surround myself with. There are certain ideas and attitudes from my friends and family that are really inspiring, and this is what drives me. The actions of those around me have a huge impact as to how I see life, and therefore how I navigate art. My mother is a huge influence, and is also an artist so we have that connection. And finally, what do you wish for when people see your creations? I hope that it can remind them of a familiar feeling, or make them feel supported. I'm also very open for any interpretation, so if people are interested then that's pretty neat!
You can enjoy more of Nicholas' work on his website: https://nickmullaly.com/